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Enderal – a mod better than the original

It has been over 10 years since the original release of Skyrim, and, quite surprisingly, the game is still being developed. Unfortunately, the work is mainly conducted by the player base and not by the original developers. This work done by the community not only improves the gameplay but also, occasionally, provides much-needed fixes to the original game. There are, however, exceptional mods like Enderal, which can be called a completely separate game.

Enderal is a total conversion mod for Skyrim. It was created by German developer SureAI. The team has been working together for over 20 years now, and they mainly create games based on Bethesda’s game engines. Each game they produce is completely free and capable of offering high-quality experiences. Each character in their games is fully voiced. The team has also produced over 100 original soundtrack pieces for their games. This gives an idea of how professional the production process is.

The world of Enderal is a little smaller than the world of Skyrim, but, nevertheless, it is very rich in content. While playing the mod, you will encounter various regions that do not resemble their original counterparts in any detail. Each corner hides a place worth exploring, not at all like the many generic locations of Tamriel. The new content is breathtaking, even though it was put together by a studio consisting of about a dozen developers. The world of Enderal is also filled with books and letters that explain the lore of that new world. There are also easter eggs, unique armour, and weapon sets hidden throughout the landscape. The mod seems to be tailored for the explorers and collectors.

The game does not contain any fast-travel systems. Most of the world has to be traversed by foot. There are additional methods like Myrad’s (which are a kind of white, flying creature) or scrolls. As you progress through the game, you will be able to buy a horse or a donkey. This way of travelling can become tiring after a while, but the game was carefully designed around that very system.

Undercity is a place with such a deep atmosphere that it might even rival Tod Howard’s pockets.

The story is a huge, positive aspect of Enderal. The game begins with a graphic and serious introduction with a dark fantasy theme. The whole game is rated for adults. You will meet many well-written characters. A great example of that is one of the most beloved companions – Jasper. The side characters are also very memorable. This is due to the many side quests they offer and the quality of the narration. The voice actors deserve a lot of credit.

The game itself is much more difficult than TES:V. It will provide a demanding experience until the very end. It is a typical zero-to-hero type of story, the kind we commonly associate with Gothic. While travelling throughout the land of Enderal, you might encounter an impassible obstacle. While in the beginning you will be unable to take care of a pair of bandits, you will find yourself defeating legions of them in the later stages of the game. It is very satisfying. The quests marked as the most difficult are visible to the player from the very beginning, which perfectly grounds the player within the dangerous world of Vyn.

Yup, it is still Skyrim, but now it also has a whole German developer studio behind it.

The developers are trying hard to completely overhaul the mechanics and functions offered by the base game, but some things have proven too difficult to overcome. Due to this fact, some off-putting elements of the original, like the clunky combat system, can still be found in the mod. Despite all that, the mod developers still managed to completely redesign some gameplay elements, like the character progression system. Instead of the original system that was based around improving a skill based on the amount of time spent actually doing activities connected with it, Enderal opts to implement the classic skill point-based system. The player obtains these points by completing various activities in the game world. The skill points can be distributed over three skill trees: combat, craftsmanship, and class abilities.

In some ways, the mod can be compared to the game Gothic. Just like in that title, the player has to spend huge amounts of money to learn skills from trainers. Cash is scarce in this world too, so most of it is spent directly at the trainers, and if there is any spare left, it barely covers the regular expenses. The deposit mechanic comes in handy in these situations. The player can transfer their money to a bank deposit, which has an interest rate that scales with the amount of money that the player places in it. Managing your funds is a key element of the game. There is also a new mechanic called memory points that replaces the screems from the original Skyrim.

By investing skill points in a particular tree, we develop our character on one of the three paths: warrior, mage, or rogue. However, nothing stands in the way of creating a magic-wielding knight. The developers created a system of enchanting that involves infusing amulets with souls that, once placed within the artifact, will help the player in fights. There is also an option to engage in lycanthropy, which basically means becoming a werewolf.

Every visit to this enchanting land will give you nightmares.

Enderal feels like a completely separate game. The player can sometimes forget that they are playing a modded version of Skyrim. The experience is throttled only in the rare moments when Bethesda’s archaic game engine proves to be a limiting factor for the gameplay. Personally, I spent over 80 hours in the game, and I had a really good time. I can confidently say that Enderal is one of the best RPG games I have ever played, and I have played many. Bethesda should be ashamed of the fact that a small, non-profit studio is capable of developing a game superior to theirs. The mod is available on Steam for free. You will need any version of Skyrim to play it, though. Let us all share in the talent of SureAI and hope for a better future for the gamedev industry.

[Photo: ingame screenshots]

[Original article by Herbert Ochimowski]